Introducing your toddler to hand-washing
You did it! You’ve convinced Baby that germs are bad, now all you need to do is convince her that washing her hands can help keep her safe and make it part of her routine. Hand-washing isn’t all scare-tactics, though, and keeping it fun will also help keep regular hand-washing a part of your family’s routine without letting it turn into a constant struggle.
Make it part of the routine
You can do this by making it a part of activities that are already necessary parts of her day. If “time for dinner” automatically means it’s time to wash hands, hand-washing isn’t the activity itself, it’s the obstacle in the way of the main event, and to get to her yummy meal, Baby will have to make sure her fingers are clean. When she comes out of the bathroom or touches something yucky, you can remind her to wash the germs off her hands so she doesn’t get anyone, including themselves, sick. Hand-washing doesn’t need to be a solo activity, either. You may need to walk her through the hand-washing process 10 or 15 times before letting she is ready to do it on her own, and even then, it’ll be more fun with a buddy.
Lead by example
If hand-washing is a part of your routine that Baby knows about, she may be more willing to make it a part of theirs. Talking about hand-washing to Baby can make it look fun and important. If you tell her, “Time to wash my hands before we play together, I just got home from work so I probably have germs all over my hands!” she gets the message that washing hands and keeping clean is a part of every family member’s day.
Make it fun
You know what Baby likes to do best, and you can try to jazz up hand-washing with anything from singing to colorful soaps to hand towels decorated with a favorite character. Sure, not everything in Baby’s life has to be a game, but adding something interesting about it can help to keep hand-washing from turning into a chore she wants to avoid. Songs especially can be great tools here, whether they’re about hand-washing or just fun and silly and long enough that if Baby washes her hands while she sings them, her hands will get nice and clean. You can make up songs, or look around online for enough different songs to try that you can use a different one for every day of the month!